The 30th Olympic Games of the modern era kick off in London on Friday and the
Israeli delegation of 37 athletes competing in eight sports has already
Unfortunately, the excitement in Israel surrounding the Games
has been tempered by increased concerns over security
. Besides the fact that
this summer’s Olympics marks the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre –
conjuring up memories of Israelis’ vulnerability – there is real concern that
Iran, Israel’s latest archenemy, will target an Israeli athlete.
Sunday Times might have exaggerated when it reported over the weekend that
Israel has dispatched special Mossad agents to European capitals where members
of Iran’s Quds Force – the Islamic Republic’s international terrorism cadre –
are known to be working out of embassies. (Maj.-Gen. Amos Gilad (res.), Defense
Ministry director of policy and political-military affairs, characterized the
Times’ report as “literary descriptions taken out of spy novels.”) Defense
Minister Ehud Barak said that while there was no specific intelligence
information on a planned attack, he acknowledged that major events such as the
Olympics “attract” terrorist plots and pointed to the 11 members of the Israeli
delegation murdered by Palestinians
at the Munich Olympics as
Further stoking fears of a terrorist attack is the possibility
that Wednesday’s bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria, which left six innocent people
dead – five of whom were Israeli – was a harbinger of more Islamist-inspired
violence against Israelis and Jews living or traveling abroad.
attack came after about 20 recent fumbled or foiled attempts by the Islamic
Republic to kill Israelis, according to the Prime Minister’s
British security officials are not taking any
Security will be tight for the duration of the Olympic Games,
but members of the Israeli delegation will be under especially rigorous
protection. For their own protection, a closed-off section of the Olympic
village, separated from the other athletes and described as “sterile” by Efraim
Zinger, head of the delegation to London, has been reserved for the
“Munich was like a summer camp compared to this,” Zinger told
Army Radio. “It feels like an army base here.”
Meanwhile, pressure is
building for the so-far intransigent International Olympic Committee to hold an
official moment of silence at the Games for the Munich victims.
Barack Obama joined the US Senate, the German Bundestag, the Canadian and
Australian parliaments and about 50 members of the British Parliament in
supporting the observance of a minute of silence.
Olympic-related development, the Prime Minister’s Office is trying to get the
BBC to recognize that Israel, like all other countries participating in the
Games, has a full-fledged capital. Until recently, the BBC’s listing of
countries participating in the Olympics included Israel, but did not include
Jerusalem as the capital.
After a complaint from the Prime Minister’s
Office, the BBC grudgingly agreed to mention Jerusalem as “seat of government”
while adding that “most foreign embassies are in Tel Aviv
of the State of Israel hoped that the creation of a country for the Jewish
people would in some normalize their status. No longer would Jews be forced to
be hosted by a country that ostensibly belonged to another people. One of the
trappings of this normalization process is participation in the Olympic
Indeed, when Israel debuted at the Helsinki Games in 1952, there
was undoubtedly a feeling that Israel in some small way become like all the
But anti-Semitism and rabidly anti-Israel sentiments that
pervade the international community cause Israel to be singled out. Israelis are
subject to uniquely stringent security arrangements; their country’s capital is
only half-heartedly recognized by some; and they must be subjected to the
humiliating refusal on the part of the International Olympic Committee to hold a
simple one-minute commemoration that, like the recognition of a capital, would
probably have been granted to any “normal” country.
We can only hope that
before anti-Semitism and irrational hatred of Israel pass from the world, the
BBC and the IOC will regain their senses.
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